Bethel Methodist Church
by George D. Ewing

The following is copied from letters written to the Trimble Democrat about 1920. George D. Ewing grew up at Ewings Ford, the son of Fulton and Rachel (Robbins) Ewing. He was a confederate soldier, in company A of the Fourth Kentucky Cavalry. In 1855 he moved to Pattonsburg, Mo.

"The first Bethel was only a small unhewn log building, which was intended to be only temporary to meet the then present emergencies. The chimney was what was known as a stick of clay chimney. It was a frame of small timbers with the inside structure composed of stone at the bottom with clay mortor so as to make it secure from fire. Often these old ones were called the 'log and mud chimneys'. As I understand, the first Bethel had such a chimney " It was erected early in 1800, and was used for both church and school. There was then no county or school organization. It was not many years until the first Bethel was torn away, and a neat, hewn log building was erected in its stead. This was Bethel number two.

"Soon after the erection of the second Bethel our father and mother came from near New Castle and located about one mile from Bethel on the Little Kentucky River, and became members of the Bethel Church. Some of those who were most helpful in building the first and second Bethel were Charles Cook and wife Sarah Cook; Davis Latty and wife, Martha Cook Latty; Col. Robert Daugherty and wife, Elizabeth Pierce Daugherty; Samuel Wyatt and wife , Polly Wright. Their son, George Wyatt and wife, Malinda Wyatt, who was a sister of Charles and John May, were quite helpful, especially with the second Bethel. He and wife were exemplary in their church service. The husband being known as the sweet singer.

"Charles Bain and wife, Nancy Trout Bain; James Hayden and wife; Fielding Colbert and wife, Catherine Kendle Colbert; John Garriott and wife, Sophia Whitley Garriott; were some of those who helped in the building and maintaining the first two Bethels , and also the third which was erected on the old site in 1867. The third Bethel was a neat frame building, which remained at the old place until a few years ago. When the present new road was constructed on the opposite, or east side of the river, the church was removed to a location on the new road. Much improved, it is now known as the new Bethel, I remember the second Bethel as far back as 1848. That year Gen. Zachary Taylor and Millard Fillmore were elected President and Vice President.

"At the age of six I became a fairly regular attendant at the Bethel Church, and also at the schools in that building. I remember so well the beech trees that stood south of the Church. Their shade in the hot weather was pleasant to those who were unable to gain admittance in the overflow crowd. For many years after the frame building was erected numbers of the members attended the weekly prayer-meetings. At that time brother William F. Ewing and I lived close neighbors. We most always attended these prayer meetings. J.W. Latty was quite a regular attendant. Billy Hill and his brother, Ben F. Hill, were usually present. So were N. Hill, Allison Pierce, Theodore Martin, W.B. May, and his brother, Cabe May, Fred Hutcerhson, James M. Hayden, William Bain, and numberous others.

"Often the pastor from Bedford attended. Frequently brother William P. Ewing and I were alone on our return home until Daughtery's Creek was reached. Perhaps during the day we had been working close together, but before separating for our homes we would talk awhile. As soon as we separated William would start singing some old gospel song, I often stopped my horse and listened to the pathos of those old songs.

I have no doubt in my mind but what those old prayer-meetings were helpful, and some now living no doubt remember the old occasions. When the weather was not too bad, and the waters did not interfere, many of the good women attended these meetings. In after years, as they grew older, Allie Hill and Orlando Hill, his brother, were frequent attendants, as well as Betty Hill Morgan, and frequently her mother.

"I attended the school in the second Bethel building. But not long afterwards public school buildings were erected to accommodate most of the school children of the county, after which schools in church buildings ceased. (The public school system of Kentucky has its beginning in 1837.)

"In my boyhood days large congregations came at times to Bethel. Many worthy and and able preachers preached there. Among them were George Strother and three of his sons, John, Jeremiah, and French. The father and two of his sons were local preachers, but Jeremiah Strother was for a time in the Conference ministry. I remember hearing Father Strother frequently preach. While now he would not be classed as an educated man, yet his fund of strong common sense, together with his Christian life, made him an acceptable and useful preacher. The same can be said of his three sons. Perhaps there were few families that exerted a greater influence for right living. Jeremiah Strother was pastor of the Bedford circuit. But few, if any, of the ministers were more successful in building a stronger and better religion than Jeremiah Strother. Soon after his pastorate ceased on the Bedford circuit, George W. Crumbaugh was transferred from Louisville Conference and placed in charge of the Bedford circuit. He was a most worthy minister, and during his four years of service he did most excellent Christian work. His was a strong Mind, with that practical ability which enabled him to meet most circumstances and conditions in life. He was very popular with the young people and had their entire confidence.

"During the time of the second Bethel, in warm weather, with large audiences, services were frequently held in the beech grove, just below and near the cemetery. In my boyhood days many forceful and eloquent sermons were preached under the cool shade of that cluster of beech trees. Near by rest many of the honored dead of that community. Among these are our father and mother, besides our precious twin sons. Many of my good friends are buried there. If I, in my old age were to go back to the old county and old home, I would, among the first things, visit the old Bethel site where so many memories still linger with me. Then I would cross Little Kentucky to the new Bethel, there with hopes and prayers, to invoke the blessings of Almighty God on the new Bethel, as I verily believe he has blessed the Old Bethel."

(Time has erased the sacred Bethel. The membership was transferred to the Bedford Church. Buildings of church and school have entirely vanished. Nothing remains but the neglected graves of the pioneers.)

pages 15;17-18 The Trimble Banner Bi-Centennial April 1974
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